Statement by Zambia to IFAD's 27th Session of the Governing Council

Statement by Zambia at the twenty-seventh session of the Governing Council of IFAD, Rome, 18-19 February, 2004

The President of IFAD,
Distinguished Governors and delegates
Ladies and gentlemen

It is my great pleasure to be accorded an opportunity to speak at this important annual event, the twenty-seventh session of the Governing Council of IFAD. Zambia being one of the members and beneficiaries of IFAD's support joins other countries in recognising the importance of this meeting. Our participation reflects our country's commitment towards IFAD's work and aspirations.

Mr Chairman,

This is a time of escalating challenges like poverty reduction and growing hopes for a bright future for humanity at large. The international community is now passing through a critical stage in view of the recent world developments related to globalisation and economic liberalization.

The opportunities and challenges arising from such developments are not only confined to political, economic, social and cultural aspects but also gaining growing importance in several sectors especially agriculture, which has a task of balancing between trade liberalisation in agricultural commodities, on one hand and protection of small scale farmers in the fulfilment of food security, on the other.

Moreover, the world population is expected to increase, adding a major burden on the international community in the way of doubling agricultural production, alleviation of poverty, realising food security and environmental protection.

Three quarters of those living in abject poverty reside in rural areas. Accordingly, it is now required that rural development should be a high-priority issue on the world community agenda.

In view of the foregoing, IFAD's activities have gained an increasing importance in assisting the developing countries to fulfil their hopes of eliminating hunger, alleviating poverty in rural areas and facing the adverse effects of economic liberalization policies.

Mr Chairman,

The relationship between IFAD and Zambia has played an important role in achieving some development in the field of agriculture in the country. This has been effected through the Fund's initiative to finance projects that served the objectives of the Zambian agricultural development plan and were compatible with the Government socio-economic plan of orientation in expanding agriculture and improving food security.

The core of IFAD's strategy in Zambia has been to address problems of food insecurity. Its support has been directed towards improving food security and strengthening services for the benefit of resource poor households as well as improving their access to markets. As a result of this support the food security of the vulnerable families is improving and has greatly contributed to poverty reduction.

The partnership of IFAD and Government in implementing projects in Zambia has yielded not only mutual economic interest but has also contributed to bringing about new approaches in the agricultural sector, which are aimed at empowering local communities.

This was being done in line with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP). The main thrust of the PRSP is to identify programmes that will contribute to poverty reduction among the poor especially in the rural outlying areas of the country. The Zambian Government appreciates this partnership with IFAD.

The country is also grateful for IFAD's decision to participate in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Bank debt initiative for Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) for which Zambia qualified. The resources made available from the debt initiative have gone a long way in supporting efforts of poverty reduction.

It is my hope that IFAD will take part in the poverty reduction initiatives Zambia is pursuing, as already indicated in their future areas of cooperation document sent to us. IFAD would like to become a more important partner in our Government's rural development efforts aimed at eradicating rural poverty. IFAD is currently exploring the possibilities of supporting long-term initiative to strengthen rural poor people's access to rural financial services and over the medium-term consider other areas for possible support such as natural resource management including water management and livestock services particularly veterinary services.

I would like to call upon the Fund to support this noble task so as to make Zambia positively contribute to the realisation of the vision of poverty alleviation by 2015. As part of our future implementation strategy, we would like to consolidate the lessons and experiences gained in programmes funded by IFAD and other cooperating partners.

I would therefore like to acknowledge the efforts that IFAD is making in promoting participatory approaches in agriculture to foster development. It is our view in Zambia that unless the poor resource farmers fully participate in programme development and implementation, no meaningful and sustainable development would take place.

As a country, we would like to express our support and backing of the Fund's effort in implementing new initiatives in agricultural development especially, the new initiative of gender strengthening. This initiative of incorporating gender into the Fund's programmes is a very good one because it will help men and women understand their roles and activities they are supposed to undertake in agricultural development and further reduce poverty.

As I conclude, may I once again express my Government's gratitude to IFAD for making funds available for development in Zambia. IFAD has clearly demonstrated commitment to develop agriculture and in turn reduce poverty. As a country we are looking forward to new areas of cooperation within the framework of the PRSP.

Thank you.